The best fantasy books with amazingly developed characters

The Books I Picked & Why

Jade City

By Fonda Lee

Book cover of Jade City

Why this book?

This is one of my all-time favorite fantasy books. It has a mafia twist to it which was done incredibly well and has not only superbly developed characters but also entire cultures. As a female reader, I can’t handle books in which women are caricatures of actual humans and unfortunately that is the case in 90% of action or martial arts books or movies. However, that is not the case in Jade City. Fonda Lee, the author of Jade City, is a female, black belt martial artist and I think this was one of the reasons why the female characters, in this mafia world, were developed to a deeper level than I have ever seen in any other mafia, or martial arts book or movie.

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

A Darker Shade of Magic

By V.E. Schwab

Book cover of A Darker Shade of Magic

Why this book?

I am a complete sucker for parallel worlds and realities. A Darker Shade of Magic centers around 4 parallel Londons. This sounds like it would get nauseatingly confusing, but it doesn’t. The author, V.E. Schwab, has an amazing talent for being able to switch scenes and locations in a clear way. Additionally, V.E. Schwab was able to make each London rich, detailed, and unique. So, you get 4 Londons to play with, instead of just one! Lastly, as with all my other suggestions, this book has multiple, strong, well-developed characters.

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Interview with the Vampire

By Anne Rice

Book cover of Interview with the Vampire

Why this book?

I choose this book above other vampire classics like Bram Stoker’s Dracula because of its unique focus on the lives and thoughts of the vampires, rather than the usual ‘love you forever’ theme that is prevalent in many famous, vampire stories. The author looked at vampires as humans who are dealing with eternity, the price you need to pay for it, and the loneliness that comes with it. This is one of the best vampire stories in terms of incredibly well-developed and rich, vampire characters.

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.


By Adrienne Young

Book cover of Namesake

Why this book?

I’m a sucker for teen romance, but, I don’t like it when that’s all the story is about. Fable and Namesake had that awesome teen love but it was perfectly intertwined into the larger plot of the story. On that note, the plot was great! It was rich and extensive, not just a cover for the romance. Additionally, the book delved into parent-teen relationships on a realistic and detailed level, which I find to be a rarity in YA fantasy novels.

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

The Secret Garden

By Claire Freedman, Shaw Davidson

Book cover of The Secret Garden

Why this book?

This is a children’s classic and was one of my favorite books when I was about ten years old. It’s not a fantasy, like my other suggestions, but as a child, the concept of finding this beautiful, wild, secret garden felt absolutely magical and fantastical. It’s what every kid imagines - amazing secret places and magical hideaways. The author also focused on concepts of friendship, family, and belonging in a way that really spoke to me as a child. I read this book multiple times as a kid and love it to this day. I’d even suggest it to adults who haven’t read it.

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Closely Related Book Lists

Distantly Related Book Lists